Author: Craig Calcaterra


Playoff Reset: Back to Kansas City for Game 3 of the ALCS


source: Getty Images

The Game: Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals, American League Championship Series Game 3
The Time: 8:07 PM Eastern
The Place: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
The Channel: TBS
The Starters: Wei-Yin Chen vs. Jeremy Guthrie
The Upshot: Talk about getting hot at the right time. The Royals have won all six of their playoff games so far and look like an October juggernaut and now they get three games at home. If they even need all three games. Fun fact, at least if you’re not an Orioles fan: In the 29 years since the League Championship Series was switched to a best of seven, no team that has dropped the first two games at home has come back to win the series. That has happened 11 times in the past. Also going against Baltimore: their starter, Wei-Yin Chen didn’t fare well in his only playoff start this year, giving up five runs in three and two-thirds innings ten days ago against the Tigers. Meanwhile, Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie could have some rust, not having pitched since his final start of the regular season back on September 26, when he threw seven shutout innings against the White Sox.

Players are concerned their routines will be messed up as a result of pace of play changes. Well, tough.

Adjusting gloves

Jayson Stark of ESPN has a story about how players are concerned that their voices will not be heard in the ongoing discussion about increasing the pace of play in Major League Baseball. Yes, the union is involved and the union asks players about such things, but no players are on the committee which is discussing possible rules changes.

At the outset, yes, I agree: players should be at the table, not just Tony Clark. If it were just about their rights being protected, fine, let the union deal with it. But if it’s about the actual mechanics of the job, the people who do the job probably have better insight about all of this than anyone. Or at least should be in the conversation when the way they do their job is being changed.

That said, the players’ complaints, as told to Stark, don’t exactly move me. Among them:

That too much of the blame for slowing the game — and most of the responsibility for fixing it — seems to have been placed on players. Players complained that Selig has made a number of comments about how “aggravated” he is with hitters who step out of the box after every pitch and start “adjusting all the crap [they] have on.” That tone, said one player, “isn’t helping.”

I hate to break it to you guys, but you are the reason games are slow. Yes, commercial breaks are a bit longer than they used to be, but it’s the batter and pitcher interaction — and lack of action — which is what is slowing everything down. Maybe pointing that out “isn’t helping” insofar as your ego and your hurt feelings go, but addressing that is the primary way to help speed things up.

Indeed, the other things players mention as culprits — commercial breaks, sabermetrics encouraging batters to take more pitches and more pitching changes happening — deal directly with the finances of baseball, the strategy of baseball and the rules of baseball, respectively, and making changes to those things would be far more problematic than simply having players, you know, step on it a bit.

There is one funny bit here, however. One of the changes on the table — a change which is being tested in the Arizona Fall League right now — is the pitch clock, which would be visible on the outfield wall and behind home plate and which would, in theory, ensure that pitchers deliver the ball in a timely manner when no runners are on base. Curtis Granderson muses:

“You could have a situation where there are 10 seconds on the clock, and fans are yelling, ‘3-2-1,’ and messing the pitcher up. … And the next thing you know, the hitter and the pitcher are both rushing to the clock because they don’t want a violation.”

Am I crazy, or wouldn’t that be pretty cool? This is no different than “Hey batterbatter saaaawiiiiing batter!” This isn’t tennis or golf. Suck it up.

Most of the players complaints here boil down to “man, don’t mess with our routines.” Welp, sorry. Your routines are way easier to mess with than rules which would fundamentally alter the game. And your routines are the primary problem. You should totally be in the conversation dealing with all of that, probably in a more active role than you currently are, but ultimately the burden of change is going to fall on the guys who actually play the game.

The Yankees have talked to A-Rod about playing first base next year

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays

If you listen only to the New York columnists you’d think that the Yankees are going to cut Alex Rodriguez the second he comes off his suspension at the conclusion of the World Series. But the Yankees do not, apparently, have any intention of doing so. Indeed, they are already thinking about where he’ll play:

Which makes about as much sense as anything. Obviously they have to figure out third base too, but if they can bring back Chase Headley — or find someone younger and more durable than one can assume A-Rod will be after a year’s layoff — first base would not be a bad landing spot for Rodriguez. Yes, Mark Teixeira is still there but his health and productiveness is no more guaranteed than A-Rod’s. Probably less so. Figure that he, Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran will also see a lot of time at DH.

There’s still a chance that Rodriguez shows up at spring training and is simply not able to play anymore. Or that some new scandal will erupt that will truly represent the final straw. But if that doesn’t happen, it would not be at all shocking to see Rodriguez playing multiple positions in 2015.

The Brewers fire two coaches, but Ron Roenicke to return as manager in 2015

Ron Roenicke

Whenever you have a close-but-not-cigar year that peters out in the end, there will be people calling for the manager’s head. That describes the situation in Milwaukee this season, but it looks as if Ron Roenicke will survive it:


Roenicke, baseball’s 12th most handsome manager heading into the 2014 season, is 335-313 in four years at the helm of the Brewers. By wins and losses, this was his second worst year of the four. By the expectations game, it was a roaring success until, oh, mid-to-late August, with the Brewers defying most experts’ picks and leading the NL Central. Things ended poorly, however, with the bats going cold and the the Brewers dropping out of the playoff hunt.

That late cold stretch is what likely cost Johnny Narron his job. I imagine Iorg was canned as an example to the others because, really, I have no idea what basis there is for firing a first base coach, even if it happens all the time.